Americans love trucks: Does that mean fuel economy doesn’t matter anymore?

The Trump administration crusade to wipe out every vestige of Obama-era policies, including auto fuel economy standards, will continue in 2018, but environmental and consumer advocates are pushing back hard.In a recent report titled "The War on Energy Efficiency," the Consumer Federation of America calls a full rollback roll back of fuel economy standards a "$2-trillion mistake."That calculation takes into account the $1.2 trillion consumers have saved because of the standards in effect since 1975 and the $800 billion in economic growth tied to energy efficient technologies. Both President Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt, his head of the Environmental Protection Agency who has close ties to the oil and gas industries, have been on the warpath to weaken or erase regulations designed to incentivize alternative fuel technologies."My administration will work tirelessly to eliminate the industry-killing regulations,” Trump said in March during a visit to the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti. "These standards are costly for automakers and the American people.” More: Fuel economy: This key data points at strong U.S. oil demand More: U.S. gasoline prices continue sliding on slowing holiday-season demand More: GM wants you to shop from your car for food, gasoline and hotels Liz Bowman, an EPA spokeswoman, reiterated that position.“Unlike the Obama administration, which pre-emptively forced stringent regulations on an industry to force a change in consumer behavior, EPA is moving forward with an open and robust review of emissions standards, consistent with the original timeframe provided by the regulations," Bowman said.   So what do automakers say? The new tax bill sharply cuts what they owe the U.S. government. China is aggressively promoting electric vehicles. Then an uncertain future of self-driving vehicles looms with potential threats to the traditional business Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: The 2016 Ford F-150 has no trouble demonstrating why it is the best-selling pickup truck in America

Full Car Details More Reviews You work hard. You play hard. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to do both at the same time. Working hard and playing hard sometimes requires the transport and use of heavy, bulky gear. For that, nothing else matches the functionality of a full-size pickup truck, and no other light-duty pickup matches the breadth and depth of the 2016 Ford F-150 lineup. That’s my opinion, anyway, one easily drawn after spending a week behind the wheel of the new luxury-themed F-150 Limited, which priced out at $66,810. Sorry. Didn’t mean to make you choke, or spit out whatever might have been in your mouth. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. While that might be a kingly sum, keep in mind that Ford offers the F-150 in a seemingly endless array of cab styles, bed lengths, and powertrain choices. A basic F-150 XL with a regular cab, a short bed, and rear-wheel drive starts at less than $28,000, including the $1,195 destination charge. The ritzy Limited version stands at the opposite end of the F-150 spectrum and is, for all intents and purposes, a luxury vehicle. Still, despite its layer of luxe, the F-150 Limited retains the essential function and utility that defines a pickup truck. Even without all of the extras, and by both my own evaluative yardstick and the relevant numbers, any F-150 in any form has what it takes to beat the competition. Design: 9.0 rating In many ways, designers of pickup trucks have a simpler task than those penning other kinds of vehicles. Trucks need not boast saucy curves or sharp creases, nor must they project an air of speed and affluence. Pickup trucks simply need to embody an image of strength and toughness, while burnishing a brand’s image. The latest Ford F-150, redesigned for the 2015 model year, manages to hit all the right stylistic notes, equipped with an enormous, monolithically constructed façade amplified by my test vehicle’s standard Continue Reading

This Harvey volunteer used his large military truck to rescue hundreds of survivors

 HOUSTON — The stranger drove down Braesheather Drive in a military vehicle taller than Staci Beinart’s one-story house. He stopped at the curb, killed the engine, and climbed down from the cab, which sits five feet in the air. Beinart gasped for breath. She took two steps forward, smiled and wrapped the man in a hug. Then she introduced the stranger to her mother.“Mom! This is the man who rescued us!” said Beinart, 40, before turning back to the man. “I’m sorry. What is your name?”His name is Nick Sissa. And on Friday afternoon he was the returning hero of Meyerland, a neighborhood west of downtown Houston that experienced severe flooding due to Hurricane Harvey.For two days this week, through blinding rain that threatened his own livelihood, Sissa drove his two-and-a-half ton military vehicle through the flooded streets of Houston. He rescued about 300 people, he said.In the grand scheme of things, Sissa’s efforts may account for little. Harvey — one of the largest storms ever to hit North America — flooded about 300 miles of the Houston metropolitan area, the nation’s fourth largest city, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes. Thousands more participated in rescue efforts. Rebuilding the city will take years.To the people of Meyerland, however, Sissa’s big truck left a big impression.“Oh my gosh. You saved my family! My grandchildren!” said Lisa Davidoff, 62, Beinart’s mother. “I am in debt to you.” This truck is no jokeWhen Sissa called his wife Martha Mae last year to say he’d purchased an enormous military vehicle, she didn’t believe him. She was pregnant with their first child. Surely now was not the time to purchase such a big toy.“I didn’t think he’d actually do it,” said Martha Mae Sissa, 34. “I thought he was kidding.”Nick Sissa is not a Continue Reading

Camille Grammer, a ‘Real Housewife of Beverly Hills,’ and her ex, Kelsey, face a moving dilemma

A- and B-listers alike were all in for the Mending Kids International Four Kings & an Ace Celebrity Poker Tournament in Los Angeles this weekend. And the winner was — the kids, of course. While everyone else was thinking about full houses, tournament attendee and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Camille Grammer was thinking about selling hers. On Nov. 28, she filed an emergency order to stop her ex, Kelsey Grammer, his fourth (and newest) wife and their 4½-month-old daughter from moving back into the $16 million home the divorced Grammers are trying to unload. She tells [email protected] that it’s nothing personal. “I want to sell the house because we both carry mortgages on it, and the house is on the market, plus he has two other beautiful homes he can live in. It’s like ... gimme a break,” the Real Housewife laughed when asked if she was trying to put her ex on the street. “We have another court date coming up, so I really don’t want to talk about it, but I am not kicking anybody out of anybody’s house,” said Camille Grammer. She added that her ex’s daughter is “gorgeous” and “I wish nothing but the best for them.” Though she isn’t sure about Kelsey’s decision to bring his kid to the Playboy Mansion Halloween party. “I mean ... it’s not something that I would do,” she said diplomatically. Back at the poker tables, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons had his eyes set on beating a superhero. “I’m here for Iron Man,” Simmons told [email protected] “I plan to take him down!” Iron Man was there okay and he even melted one reporter with his death stare. Halfway down the red carpet Robert Downey Jr. decided he was finished taking questions, but stopped for one reporter who wouldn’t take no for an answer even after the movie star’s reps made it clear the interviews were over. Continue Reading

A study says that Louisville has the 13th-best drivers in America … Ha!

A study released this week ranks the quality of drivers in the country's 75 largest cities, and Louisville drivers came in at No. 13.There is only one appropriate response:HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, wait, I see.QuoteWizard, an online insurance comparison marketplace, based its rankings only on a handful of statistical criteria — accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs and citations.Louisville drivers apparently don't drunkenly speed into the sides of buildings on the reg, which is great, but let's back this truck up for a second — and don't bother to use your turn signal or check to see if there's anyone behind you because no one else in this town does. Hated and happy: Kentucky wrestler The Progressive Liberal is both hero and villain You may like: How to look festival-ready for Forecastle no matter the weather Louisville drivers are not good.They are lazy, spoiled brats who think the rules of the road apply only to others and see common sense as no more than a distant option. They regularly steer their two-ton vehicles directly into the paths of other two-ton vehicles and have no idea why bad things happen.Here are the top five dumb things Louisville drivers do. (It could have been a much longer list.) 1. They ignore turning lanes.Eight times this week — eight! — I've had to deal with drivers who have no idea that some lanes are dedicated to moving forward and some to turning. I've had drivers hang hard rights from the through lane even as I'm turning from the correct lane – and then they get mad at me.What's so hard to understand about this? If there's a lane that's closer to the curb than your lane, that magically becomes a turning lane at cross streets. It's not dealer's choice.This bad behavior is especially bad in downtown Louisville, where after three years, the bike lanes continue to cause massive hemorrhaging of cognitive Continue Reading

Dish | Sunergos has ‘America’s Best Espresso’

Sunergos Coffee joined what the shop's co-founder Matthew Huested calls the "best of the best" at a bi-annual competition in Portland, Ore., this month. The event, hosted by coffee trade show Coffee Fest, brings together 144 juried competitors."It is not an open competition," Huested explains. "Every two years, they bring together the top competitors from (regional) competitions ... they go head to head for the grand championship. It is a pretty big deal."Espressos are judged on mouth appeal; flavor complexity; and aftertaste and finish, according to Kenny Smith, who represented the shop at the event. Serving Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Zero Defect, which Smith describes as having peach hard candy and buttery toffee notes with a peppermint finish, Sunergos took home the prize.Reaching this level is the culmination of lots and lots of hard work, according to Smith, but "this isn't the end of the road," he says. "This is a new standard we're called to maintain. Moving forward, it pushes us to get even better. We want to make sure the quality carries over to our retail stores and wholesale customers." Dish: Southern-style vegan food truck in the works More Dish: Nods to Louisville food groups, coffeeHuested hopes local coffee fans will look at an even bigger picture. "We have amazing coffee in our city," he says. And "... our coffee culture in Louisville is coming into its own. One of the things that will benefit us to think about is how do we support our coffee culture so we can begin to attract larger trade shows and competitions to the city. Let's keep on. This is great for us, but know that this isn't it. This isn't all that we can do."Shots of the award-winning espresso are available while supplies last at Sunergos shops; it's also available seasonally for customers to make at home.More information: Dana! Send your restaurant "dish" to Dana McMahan at [email protected] and follow @danamac on Twitter. Continue Reading

Obama to gov’t, auto industry: Let’s shape the trucks up

President Barack Obama directed the government Friday to set the first-ever mileage and pollution limits for big trucks and to tighten rules for future cars and SUVs, setting the nation's sights on vehicles that run on half the fuel they now use and give off half the pollution. "The nation that leads in the clean energy economy will lead the global economy. And I want America to be that nation," Obama declared at the White House as he signed a presidential memorandum that would reshape the country's driving habits long after he leaves office. With the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico underscoring the risks of America's heavy reliance on fossil fuels, Obama gave federal agencies just over a year to come up with fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial trucks and buses. Such vehicles are big polluters and fuel consumers even though they're far outnumbered by passenger cars. The Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental advocacy group, said large trucks represent about 4 percent of all vehicles on U.S. highways but devour more than 20 percent of fuel. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, commercial trucks account for 21 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector — compared with 33 percent for passenger cars and 29 percent for SUVs, pickups and minivans. The new standards, to be issued in July of next year, would apply to big trucks and buses for model years 2014-2018. At the same time, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will get to work on stricter standards for cars and light trucks like SUVs to kick in with the 2017 model year and carry through 2025. A year ago, Obama announced plans for the first federal regulations of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions in cars and light trucks, for the 2012-2016 model years. Those standards, rolled out last month, aim at reaching a fleet average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, nearly 10 miles Continue Reading

Ground Zero – on the road forward, at last: appreciating the progress made in rebuilding the site

When New Yorkers reflect tomorrow on the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, they can take some comfort in knowing that the Ground Zero site is actually being rebuilt - conspicuously and efficiently. Tower 4, which will be the fourth-tallest on the site at 975 feet, has risen 75 feet above street level, with steel erected up to the fourth floor and concrete poured to the third. The great slurry wall holding back the tidal Hudson River - and maintained in place after the attacks by 1.3 million tons of debris - has been rebuilt and fortified. The reconstruction of the train tracks and infrastructure for the subway running beneath the site is on schedule. Santiago Calatrava's 54 arches have been installed to form the hub connector, which will eventually serve 250,000 commuters daily. The granite "voids" marking the footprints of the original Twin Towers are nearly complete, ready for the twin waterfalls of the Memorial, which will open on the 10th anniversary.Douglas Feiden wrote a story on a then-secret report by the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center predicting that the Freedom Tower, "billed as America's defiant answer to terrorism," wouldn't be finished until 2018 - 17 years after the attacks. "It was crystal clear we were going nowhere," says a former top Bloomberg administration official, looking back. Over the past year, the two powerful property-owning protagonists - the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties - plus the Bloomberg administration negotiated, until they did just that last month. The Port, the city and the state agreed to give Silverstein Properties $1.7 billion in financing for two towers, both of which had been stalled due a lack of private financing. Summarizing the last four years, Port executive director Chris Ward says, "The grand restructuring in 2006 by which the Port and Larry [Silverstein] swapped properties was never a real negotiation, because it left a $2 to $4 billion infrastructure gap that had to Continue Reading


TALK ABOUT TRASHY advertising: City garbage trucks are turning into moving billboards. The logo of Glad Products Co. - famous for its trash bags - is being splashed across thousands of sanitation trucks in a first of its kind deal with the city. The 22-by-28-inch signs - considered by city officials to be more of a public service announcement than a commercial advertisement - read: "Glad: New York City Tough. Keep NYC Clean. " Vito Turso, a spokesman for the city Sanitation Department, said Glad donated 125,000 white 30-gallon trash bags and $7,500 to Keep America Beautiful, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to litter prevention and beautification. Both the bags and the money will be funneled to cleanup programs in the city, Turso said. In return, the city will place the Glad sign on 2,200 sanitation trucks and 450 mechanical brooms. The signs hit the streets yesterday and will be up through Jan. 31. "It's good for New York City because it helps us with a corporate sponsor to get our message out there about keeping New York City clean, and, in fact, because it's already clean, making it even more beautiful," Turso said. Turso said the department considers the agreement a "pilot program. " "We'll gauge whether it was successful and determine whether we can go forward with something like this on a larger scale," he said, adding that other corporations have expressed interest. David Kellis, a spokesman for Oakland, Calif.-based Glad, described the signs as "great exposure" for the city. As part of the deal, Glad "ambassadors" will have the honor of traveling with the sanitation truck at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "We're glad to help," said Kellis, who sheepishly admitted the pun is intended. Kimberly Spell, a spokeswoman for the city's Marketing Development Corp., said the city will be exploring similar deals in the future. "There are lots of opportunities for corporate partnerships throughout N. Y. C.," Continue Reading

Look, ma: No hands! Taking a ride in the self-driving truck of the future

Among our greatest pet peeves, when it comes to driving, is the phrase, “Look, ma: No hands!" As we see it, hands and eyes belong firmly on the steering wheel and road ahead, respectively. Now, imagine if those words came from a tractor-trailer driver barreling down the road in your direction at 75 mph. What if the semi truck of the future could drive itself? FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. ‘LIKE' US HERE. If Freightliner has it their way, the future of truck driving is autonomous, and it might not include a truck driver behind the wheel at all. That’s the idea behind the Freightliner Inspiration, a concept truck shown for the first time on a closed course just outside Las Vegas. Why introduce a new semi truck in Las Vegas? Sin City is located in the state of Nevada, a state that is kind to autonomous vehicle testing and has awarded Freightliner a license plate to put the Inspiration on the road. With the goals of improving logistics and fuel economy top of mind, Freightliner wants to disrupt the shipping chain as we know it today. The company cites efficiency and safety as top priorities for its biggest customers, and wanted to design a future vehicle that made trucking easier and more economical. READ MORE TRUCK NEWS HERE. Honestly, though, Freightliner: You had us at “self-driving truck.” Well, almost “self-driving.” The Inspiration is classified as a level-three, semi-autonomous vehicle, which means that it requires a seated operator at all times to monitor vehicle dynamics. (Even Nevada isn’t ready for a totally autonomous truck yet.) From the first glance, the Inspiration looks much like an ordinary tractor trailer. The cab sits over the engine, a trailer is attached, and the shape is rectangular and boxy. In your rear-view mirror, you could easily mistake it for a run-of-the-mill semi making a run along the New Jersey Turnpike. Continue Reading